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West Virginia’s upper Ohio Valley experiences and across-the-board population drop


The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING W.Va.  — With natural gas gushing from shale wells, historic buildings receiving major renovations in downtown Wheeling and the potential for a $10 billion ethane cracker, Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas and Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott said the Upper Ohio Valley is poised to reverse decades of population decline.

Still, the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates show the 10-county region lost 3,168 residents from 2016 to 2017. Wheeling is by far the largest municipality in Ohio County, which lost 563 residents year-to-year.

“Our current demographic makeup is the result of several decades of losing our younger workers to opportunities elsewhere. But my sense is that is changing,” Elliott said. “We are seeing, and will continue to see, more high school and college graduates choosing to stay in the area, as well as those in their 30s and 40s opting to move back.”

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